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10 Ways To Do Amsterdam On A Budget

Mug that says Amsterdam

Contented Gypsy | Christian Dew

From Raleigh, North Carolina, Christian is sweeter than Shoofly Pie. A believer in Christ and a jack of all trades, Christian is a mother, flight attendant, hair stylist, wanderluster, and lover of all things Coldplay Read more by Christian here.

Flight Attendants do not make a lot of money. You didn’t know that? It’s true! No one in our industry does this job for the money. We do it because we have an adventurous spirit, a resourceful personality for just about every situation you can think of, and oh yeah, we love to travel!

In my last article, I spoke about how we let fear keep us from experiencing things we want to do. It’s no different when it comes to travel. We talk ourselves out of something because we don’t have the money to do it or we are afraid it will cost too much.

The reality is there are three things you can do to travel more. One, become a flight attendant and make use of those travel bennies. Two, research and make use of travel blogs, websites and online deals to get where you want to go. Three…become a flight attendant!

No? Being a flight attendant isn’t for you? Okay, okay…I get it. I really do. I know it is smooth sailing for me to travel because I have flight benefits, but it can be as easy for you with some careful planning. Here are some really cool ways you can enjoy places like Amsterdam on a Flight Attendant’s budget (because frankly, we don’t really have budgets. We just make trips happen, and so can you).


When purchasing your airfare, I suggest watching Airfarewatchdog. They have awesome deals. While you may have to take a two leg segment flight over to your destination and a one leg flight back, you end up saving a lot of money. Also, buy your ticket early! I operate under the method of buy the ticket, and worry about the rest later. Sure, it’s a little risky, but it’s all part of the adventure (and once you’re committed you’re more likely to make your travel plans a reality rather than a dream).


When looking for a hotel, I recommend using Airbnb or for some really fantastic discounts. Both sites provide safe ways to travel, and you can book with confidence for international reservations. As always, though, please use good common sense, and don’t give out your credit card information without being aware of what you are fully disclosing. For an even cheaper trip and fun time, gather your friends and share the cost of the stay. This allows you to have taken care of over half the budget battle!

Once you are in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, you can start to explore! Here are some of my top ten things (no particular order of importance) to do, see and explore while you are there.

I amsterdam card

1) I amsterdam

I amsterdam City Card is the way to go for your first visit! You will receive FREE entry to some of Amsterdam’s most popular museums, FREE unlimited use of the GVB transit system including the bus, metro and tram to maneuver your way through the city. Multiple discounts and offers on various shops and restaurants. A FREE detailed city map. So much falls under the umbrella of this card that you can keep you busy for days (did I mention it’s almost all FREE?)! You can order the card online, print your voucher and then pick up your card in Schiphol airport. While I do find it’s easier to purchase your card ahead of time, you can also purchase your card once you arrive at the airport.

View of Amsterdam Canal from a canal tour

2) Canals

Explore the Canals! You can use your I amsterdam Card to get a FREE canal cruise. This is about an hour and a half of your life that you will certainly want to spend in Amsterdam! Be prepared to have sensory overload because of everything you get to see while cruising the canals. House boats, canal houses, cute classic cars, bicycles, lovers snuggling up for quality time. You’ll see a lot while spending some relaxation time on the canals. There is no particular boat company I recommend over another. They all do a wonderful job of exploring and explaining the canals. Use your card, take pictures and enjoy!

row of bicycles on a canal in utrecht

3) Rent a bicycle

It really is the only way to experience the city like a local. It is such a fun and playful part of bringing back your childhood memories. Something about a bicycle through Vondel park makes you feel like a kid again. Mikes Bikes is a great place to get loads of help from a knowledgable staff who know the city quite well. You can rent one for use on your own or you can take a bike tour. Again, the options are there for your pleasure!

Christian's daughters Mary and Mollie at Sloten Windmill.

Christian’s daughters Mary and Mollie at Sloten Windmill.

4) Windmills

You can’t leave the lovely Dutch country without visiting a windmill! Sloten Windmill has a very hands on, educational and interaction tour lead by some kind older Dutch gentleman. They know the windmill history and make it fun for any age to enjoy. If you are into clogs, you just might get to put your feet in some original dutch clogs used by the workers of the original windmills.

Burger vending machine found in amsterdam

5) Food

Oh, the food (I gained five pounds just thinking about it)! French Fries are not for the Belgians, French, or Americans. The Dutch have totally claimed these goodness. The dutch mayonnaise they use on their fries is out of this world AH-MAY-ZING. No wonder they cycle around so much! To burn off those carb calories! Seriously, you can not go wrong anywhere in the Netherlands when you get some french fries with mayonnaise. You also have to try a stroopwafel placed over hot tea, hot cocoa or coffee. Again, you can not go wrong. Don’t forget pannekoeks. The dutch version of our pancakes.

amsterdam food market via wikimedia

Image via Wikimedia

6) Grocery Shop

To experience a real country, I recommend that you go into the market and shop with the locals. Eat the foods, take in the smells, and get a feel for how the locals maneuver through their every day life. While it may seem intimidating to shop somewhere you aren’t comfortable, just do it and don’t put too much thought in it.

chelsey standing on "the stairway to heaven"

7) No Plan Plan

Have a day with NO AGENDA. Easier said than done? Not here. Not in Amsterdam. Wake up and just take to the streets. Get lost, explore the canals, go in random shops and boutiques you may interesting. Make your way through non tourist parts of the city. Using the tram or bus you can get where you need to go. If you’ve looked at maps of Amsterdam, you’ll notice the city looks like a giant horseshoe. This helps to make it easily back to the Central Station no matter where you are. It’s a fresh starting point before getting lost in your next adventure.

Ferry view of the EYE Film Institute.

Ferry view of the EYE Film Institute.

8) Ferry

Take the ferry across the IJ river and explore Amsterdam North. Take a tour of the EYE Film Institute. The Dutch are very innovative and taking the time to really learn more about their culture will help you have a more fond love for them and their culture.

the north sea

9) Discover the North Sea

You have to do more than just fly over the North Sea as you come into Schiphol. You must visit. For me it was a much different feel than the American coastlines. The feel of the sand, the water, and the smell of the air. Their boardwalks are nicely done with many outdoor cafes to enjoy. For a minimal cost of a train ticket, the sea is easily accessible by train. If you have some time to spare, the North Sea can make for a great day!

Christian's daughter, Mary, enjoying tea.

Christian’s daughter, Mary, enjoying tea.

10) Just Breathe

By just relaxing and enjoying yourself, you’ll see things around Amsterdam you may not notice when you’re rushing about. Don’t get in a hurry to see anything because you will want to take it all in with every breath you take. For me, Amsterdam gets in your blood (just as traveling does). Each time you go back to a place you love, you will find more experiences to embrace.

My hope is to inspire you to start living your life for what it is meant to be. A life of discovery, experiences, and travel. I know some who read this may feel it is a hopeless dream, but I promise you it is not. You can make anything happen if you put your mind to it. Traveling is an amazing experience which captures your heart and turn you into a wanderluster. While traveling isn’t always for everyone, there are those who live and breathe exploration. We welcome you to this crazy, unscheduled yet scheduled lifestyle of flight attendants. When we travel, we embrace the new cultures and explore the paths which draw us in. While we will leave with the same personality and habits we brought to our adventure, there’s a piece of us which will never be the same.

group picture of our amsterdam travel group

Last night hang out with the travel gang.


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